Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for North Vancouver (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, he calls them subsidies but they are not. They are taxes. They may take other forms such as property taxes or municipal taxes, but they are still taxes. They are part of government taking money out of people's pockets. If we want to be competitive, we need to deal with our taxation system in Canada.

The member is doing his job. He is arguing for the industries in his area and I appreciate that. That is exactly what I am doing too. My argument is that I do not want his industries protected with tariffs at the expense of the industries in my area. We have to move more and more toward an open and free marketplace where people compete on the basis of the quality of the product they produce.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I gave an example earlier about when I was in business for myself and my market share disappeared because competition arrived. The competition was in Vancouver which is across the harbour from North Vancouver, but it is the same principle as the border that runs between Canada and the United States. We can carry these arguments to the extreme and say to only buy stuff in North Vancouver to protect the North Vancouver industries and do not dare go across the bridge and buy something from the Staples store on the other side. It is the same principle.

What the member wants to do is to protect the industries in his region at the expense of the industries in my region. That is what it amounts to. I will give him an example.

Free trade, when it was introduced, opened up enormous opportunities for companies in my region. I have a friend who owns one and he could not trade in or export to the United States because of the tariff blocks. When Canada came into NAFTA and removed those tariffs, suddenly it opened for him that huge market of 200 million people that he could not get into before. He sells a very specialized type of equipment for the automotive industry to do with the painting of automobiles, drying and baking the enamel for small repairs. He has turned a small cottage business into an employer of hundreds of people with markets all around the world now because of the opportunity that came from the reduction of those tariffs.

I say again that because the member wants to protect one industry with tariff blocks, he punishes other industries. It is a very simplistic thing just to stand and say that there is a big industry in one part of the country and therefore we should protect it at any cost, without taking into account all of the benefits that may be accrued to other companies elsewhere in the country that is achieved by opening the markets.

In terms of subsidies, yes, we have to be concerned when we see subsidies from other places in the world to encourage our industries to go there, but the fact is that our taxes are too high in Canada. If we wanted to see more jobs than we can deal with in Canada, we would just have to eliminate the corporate taxes in Canada. Imagine if there was zero corporate tax. This is not a policy of my party; I am just throwing it out there for consideration. Imagine the rush of companies back into Canada from the United States, in fact from all around the world, to establish their plants here in Canada. As long as they could reinvest their profits in Canada, zero corporate tax would create more jobs than we would know what to do with.

Perhaps we should just reduce our taxes a little bit to be competitive with places in the United States like the member is talking about. The corporate taxes in some of the southern states are much lower than they are here.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we have had a very interesting debate today. When we started this morning, nobody expected it would move along this way, but it has been certainly interesting.

The Conservative Party will support the bill because we support free trade. However, this has given all of us an opportunity to talk in a wider frame about free trade and the sorts of problems that do or do not occur.

Before continuing on Bill C-21, I would like to mention an exchange that took place a little earlier between myself and a member of the NDP. He talked about unfair competition and that if there was unfair competition, we would surely want to have protection in place for the companies that were subjected to this unfair competition.

That hits pretty close to home. Prior to being a member of Parliament, I was in business for myself. I had a company with 10 employees, and at one stage in the 1980's, we were in the facsimile business, selling fax machines. That was about the time when Office Depot and Staples started expanding into British Columbia. They were opening stores in the Vancouver area where I was selling fax machines. Suddenly people could buy fax machines from Staples and Office Depot for a couple of hundred dollars less than the fax machines I sold.

I guess my colleague from the NDP would probably argue that was unfair competition. This big box store was coming in taking away the livelihood of my employees and all the stuff that went along with it. However, I did not look at it that way.

When we say it is unfair, unfair for whom? It was wonderful for consumers. Now they could buy a product at $200 less than they could from me and more people could afford it. As a result, Office Depot and Staples could employ many more people than I could. They could sell the types of products that they could bring into the marketplace, which the small retailers could not.

Instead of crying, weeping, going to government and demanding and asking for help to protect my business, I sat down and took a look at what Staples and Office Depot could not do that I could as a small business entrepreneur. I discovered that my technicians were trained to service the fax machines, and they could service the machines that were sold by Staples and Office Depot. What is more, the market became bigger because Office Depot and Staples were selling a lot more fax machines than I ever could, so we had more servicing opportunities than we ever had before.

I also looked around at products. We chose a line of specialty telephone equipment that Staples and Office Depot could not sell because it was too complicated and required too much pre-selling for a customer to understand how it would be beneficial.

There are always ways for an innovative business person to move aside from problems that are created by a free marketplace and to find something else that works. It is called niche marketing and it works really well. That is why Northern Telecom is so successful. It is in a niche market. It started at a time when virtually no one serviced that part of the telecommunication equipment market. It has become the world leader in the supply of telecommunication equipment.

When we talk about bills like this one and the whole environment of free trade, we have to remember that free trade has really and truly helped countries like Canada. All of the other countries of the world that have opened their borders now have higher living standards, better wages and just generally a better environment because of free trade.

I left this example until after I had given my own personal example. One of the Bloc members earlier talked about a manufacturer of paper bags in his riding who was distressed because those bags could now be made more cheaply in China. I assume this manufacturer has complained to his member of Parliament about this terrible state of affairs and has asked what the government can do to protect his paper bag manufacturing plant.

I am making some assumptions, but I think they are a reasonable assumption. The correct approach is to be honest with that manufacturer and tell him that the government policy is free trade and that he will have to work out a way to make his business work in this environment, not with government subsidies, not with protection from tariffs. Rather he should look at what he is manufacturing.

If somebody else is knocking him out of the marketplace, he should find something else to make. Perhaps he can make a specialty plastic bag, one of those wine carriers we see being sold a lot now. They are very much in vogue. There is string attached, and it is a nice type of plastic bag or paper bag in which to carry our wine when we go out to visit someone for dinner. There could be gift bags. There could be a whole range of different options for that manufacturer to get back into the marketplace in an niche market that cannot be touched by China because it is too small for that mass market and yet very profitable. There are other examples like this, too.

I am originally from New Zealand. As hon. members would know, in the mid-nineties New Zealand went bankrupt. What happened? It had to remove almost all the subsidies and grants that were given to farmers in New Zealand. My goodness, there was a lot of wailing, weeping and moaning about what would happen, and certainly a number of farmers went bankrupt. However, within 10 years there were three times as many farmers in New Zealand as there were prior to the removal of subsidies because farming had suddenly become profitable. Farmers were able to use their initiative to find niche markets.

At one stage some farmers in New Zealand were providing most of the mozzarella for Pizza Hut in the United States. They discovered they could make a quality mozzarella at the right price to fill that niche market. Farmers had been making orange cheddar previously, which everybody made, and governments filled warehouses full of cheddar that nobody needed. It was wonderful. The New Zealand farmers were forced into the position of getting off that government reliance and on to the idea of niche markets.

I do not know if hon. members have ever been there, but they should take a trip to New Zealand, go to a supermarket and take a look at the dairy department. They will be astounded at the variety and choice in that supermarket. There are so many cottage industries in the dairy industry making specialty cheeses for the yuppie market, I suppose we could call it. In addition, there are flavoured whipping creams in New Zealand. We can get kahlua whipping cream and grand marnier whipping cream. We cannot even get that in Canada because it is still illegal to sell alcohol added to those products. It is not that simple, but the removal of subsidies and grants has spawned an industry and initiative that was never there before.

I will give a home grown example. In British Columbia in the early 1980s the wine industry was heavily subsidized. Anyone who grew grapes would be guaranteed to get a huge government subsidy to stay in business. Everybody knew the wine was absolutely awful. Everybody knew it was dreadful stuff. The government of Bill Bennett at the time removed the subsidies.

Other colleagues from British Columbia will remember the screaming, yelling, wailing and moaning. Everyone was going out of business. It would be just awful. What has happened? It encouraged the industry to take a long, hard look at itself, to get rid of the junk grapes that it was growing, to start growing quality grapes and to get good winemakers from around the world. Winemakers came from France, New Zealand, Italy and Germany to help the industry develop, and now look at it today. British Columbia produces world-class wine.

Governments do not do anybody any favours by providing grants and subsidies to business. It stifles initiative and it stifles a choice in the community for consumers. It keeps prices high. If they wanted, everybody in the House could have a BlackBerry and most people could have a computer at home because of free markets that allow those products to be manufactured at a low enough price for the average person to buy in a store in Canada.

I can remember when a computer could only be purchased from a specialty store and cost $12,000. When my business purchased its first computer in 1979, it cost more than $12,000. Very few people even sold a computer. It had 12 inch floppy discs that we put into it. Only 80K of information was held on one of these great big discs, and it cost $12,000.

I had a Future Shop flyer in front of me earlier today. We can buy a desktop computer now, with a monitor and with 2.8 gigabytes of storage, for $499. What produces that sort of situation is free and open markets.

That is why at the end of the day we will be supporting the bill, because we truly believe in open markets and the reduction of tariffs. In fact, the only thing I am unhappy about with the bill is that it does not remove the tariffs completely. It maintains in place preferential treatment for some countries and less preferential treatment for others. At least it has been a step along the way, because when I immigrated to Canada in 1979 it was very much like New Zealand had been earlier with lots of protective tariffs in place and very high prices for a lot of products. It certainly is a much better environment today.

Before I finish, I need to mention something that was mentioned earlier by some of my colleagues and that is the unholy rush in which the bill is being pushed through the House. The government must have seen this situation coming up at least a year or two ago. There was a sunset clause on these tariffs. Everyone knew they were to expire very soon. Why did the government leave it until so close to the expiry date? The expiry date was to be June 30 this year. No one can tell me that no one in government recognized a year ago that this was going to happen.

Why did the government leave the bill until two or three weeks before an election call to bring it to the House? Now we are rushing the bill through without proper consideration of alternatives in order to make sure that it can stay in place when we go to an election and the House will not be here to make sure that it is done prior to June. This is typical of what has been happening in the House over the last few weeks.

I have been working on Bill C-3 which deals with the definition of political parties. That bill was introduced in the House when we came back after prorogation. The minister persuaded us that he wanted it to go to committee before second reading so that we could study the bill and make wise amendments to it and so on.

The minister indicated that he was truly interested in hearing input, that we were in a new era, that we would be getting rid of the deficit of democracy around this place. What happened when we went to committee on Bill C-3, the very first question I asked the minister was whether he or his department had contacted anybody affected by the bill and his answer, incredibly, was no.

Here we were with a bill already before committee prior to second reading. It had only been introduced and it went straight to committee and the minister had not even told the people affected by the bill that it was in process. Why? He wanted it through quickly because if it is not in place by June, it is a similar sort of situation. We have the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the Elections Act will fall apart if we do not have an amendment in place by June, so the minister is panicking to get this bill in place and through the Senate.

In fact, the bill was supposed to come back today. The minister tried to get unanimous consent in the House to waive the customary three days' notice to bring it back and to put it on the Order Paper today. He could not get that consent, but there is this rush to get the bill back into the House because the government knows it is running out of time. It wants to get it through before the election call. Instead of having proper consideration of the bill, informing the people who will be affected by it, getting some news releases out and making the public aware of the bill, he is trying to get it through as quickly as possible with the fewest people possible noticing as well.

In committee I asked the minister if he had notified anyone. His response was no. I asked if we were getting any witnesses. His response was no. It ended up that the opposition, the Conservative Party, had to filibuster in order to get some witnesses, to even be able to tell the people affected by the bill that it was happening.

We filibustered in the committee and about a week later we managed to get the Chief Electoral Officer in as a witness. Also, at my request, the head of the Communist Party of Canada was able to come from Toronto. However, the government would not allow anyone else from the small parties, such as the Green Party, who would be affected by the bill.

The two witnesses gave their testimony. The Chief Electoral Officer raised some terrible problems with the bill and suggested some very wise amendments. Right after the witnesses appeared, the minister wanted us to go ahead and do the clause by clause study of the bill. We had to threaten filibustering again in order to even consider the evidence given by the witnesses.

Some very wise amendments were suggested by the Chief Electoral Officer. We met again a few days later in committee with the minister having given an indication he was open to discussion about the amendments but in the end he would not approve any of them.

What a futile exercise it turned out to be in the same sort of circumstance as this bill. It is rushing through legislation without proper consideration, without hearing witnesses and without giving proper amendments so a faulty piece of legislation will be back in the House, I am sure, in the next few days. It is going to be rammed through the House so that we can go to an election and it is crammed with problems.

The Chief Electoral Officer said that Bill C-3 is forcing him into a position where he will have to make judgments about the purposes of political parties. In order to register them he would have to determine whether the Liberal Party of Canada, for example, actually has a purpose.

Mr. Speaker, how would you like to be in that position? That single person who is supposed to be non-partisan, completely independent of any of the political parties will be put in a position of having to determine and then sign off on paperwork that he is satisfied that the political party he is registering has a political purpose. That is the type of legislation we are getting because of this unholy rush to get things through before an election.

I realize that the bill before us is not quite as bad. It deals with a situation that has been well discussed in the past. It deals with free trade. It certainly has given us an opportunity, as I mentioned, to talk a fair bit about free trade today and to get some of our concerns on the table. We have heard a variety of opinions expressed today.

There are some who would like to see us move back to more protectionism. The members of the Bloc, whom I like to call the NDP of Quebec, would like to side with the NDP and see more protectionism. They think that would be helpful but it is not. All of the evidence that a person can gather shows that protectionism destroys jobs. Protectionism reduces consumer selection and choice. Protectionism increases prices for the consumer and it does not help people's living conditions or working standards.

The best way to achieve those goals is to have the type of environment that Bill C-21 produces, an environment of lower tariffs, freer trade and more opportunity.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, again I hear in the discussion on this bill talk of protectionism and of ways to improve the working and living conditions for people in third world countries. I heard the member say that the Quebec government should encourage Quebeckers to buy local products. I think that is perhaps a component of helping the marketplace, but it is completely the wrong approach, in my opinion.

What I think local governments should be doing, the Quebec government or the British Columbia government, or the Vermont government for that matter, is encouraging their citizens to send gifts of the very best products from that province or state to their friends and their relatives overseas to help expand the market for the product. They should not be insular and just encourage the people in their own regions to buy a product. That does not improve the marketplace. It does not improve the variety for the consumers. All it does is create a protectionist atmosphere where they do not want to let anyone else in.

The best way to do it is to try to get people to expand the marketplace. If I were in charge of an advertising campaign for a product in British Columbia, I would not be advertising for BCers to buy homegrown product. I would be saying that they would get a coupon for a discount if they send homegrown product to a relative in Quebec or a relative in Florida. Then it would be an extra coupon for that relative to buy some more. That is how we expand markets at a global level and make it better for the business in the province.

When we talk about things like improving the working conditions in the third world for the women and children the hon. gentleman talked about, let us we look back at the working conditions in a place like the United Kingdom, in England, as we went into the 1900s. There were little boys working as chimney sweeps, climbing up inside chimneys. The majority of the population in England lived in the sort of poverty and conditions that the third world is in today.

How did it improve? Because governments encouraged initiative, training and free markets. If we look at the conditions of a country, we will see time after time after time that the countries that trade freely, that encourage free trade and that encourage initiative are the ones that have the high living standards and the good working conditions.

We are not going to improve the lot of people in third world countries by trying to protect our own markets. We have to open up our markets, remove the tariffs and encourage those countries to export to us.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite intently to the speech just given by my colleague. At the risk of getting into a debate approaching on an argument with him, I think we have some differences of opinion perhaps on some of these issues of protectionism and labour.

I would like to make a comment, which I am sure he will be able to expand on at length to fill up the remaining seven or eight minutes that he has. The question has to do with the labour standards that are in these types of agreements where we reduce tariffs and get freer trading around the world.

I know he is familiar with the airline industry. If we look at international airlines, it really does not matter whether the flight attendants are on a Chinese airline, or an Australian airline or an African airline. They work under exactly the same working conditions on those airlines as they would on any other airline. When they get to Vancouver, they stay at the same nice hotels and they are exposed to the same excellent working conditions regardless of the airline. It is that way because it is a global market, so it has to compete on a global basis. The more we globalize things the better it is for everybody in those industries.

I know a member on the government side wants to ask a question too, so I will just leave it there, and ask my colleague for his comments.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I was just giving the example across the border from El Paso where the living conditions and working conditions for Mexican workers have been improved a thousand-fold. The streams that were once full of garbage and pollution have been cleaned up. There are beautiful parklands. There are running tracks for the workers. There are tennis courts. There are gymnasiums that they never had before. The opportunity for advancement and improvement of their living conditions is amazing.

If we go a little further south to Chihuahua, that city is being rejuvenated because of free trade. Wal-Mart is there, which probably will upset the member, but it has generated jobs for people there. The local Mexicans can be seen shopping there for things they could not buy before. Free trade really helps.

This is really a comment more than a question. It really disturbs me to see people arguing to shut these third world countries out of a free trading environment that really truly improves the conditions for the workers.

Customs Tariff March 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me in listening to the debate today that a lot of talk about protectionism is starting to creep into the discussion about the bill. It seems to me that the member wants to have his cake and eat it too.

At the same time that he is arguing for better working conditions and better wages for people in third world countries, he wants to cut them out of free trade by applying protectionism here. It is not as much from his speech but certainly from the speech of the Bloc member before him, trying to protect our industries from outside competition.

I will give an example. It is well known and plenty of studies have shown that countries with the most free trading policies have the highest standards of living for their people and the best working conditions. We can see it ourselves in China. When I first visited China in the late 1970s, people lived in abysmal conditions. Shanghai was a horrible place. Except for the few little tourist areas that were kept nice, everything else was really awful.

Shanghai today is a modern bustling city with good working conditions for people. The standard of living has improved out of sight because China now trades freely with the world. Sure, that has meant some adjustments in our country because inefficient industries that we used to run have gone out of business.

One example relates to what the member was just saying about the textile industry. We have a tariff in place to protect manufacturers of denim who do not even exist any more because the tariff never prevented them from going out of business in the first place. It was a misguided idea to have the tariff in the first place.

The reality of free trading and world trade is that we cannot stop the progression or the balancing of trade so that the countries that are best skilled at doing things do those things.

Canada leads the world with Northern Telecom. We provide the telecom equipment for the world. We set the standard for it. The BlackBerry, or the BlueBerry as it is now called, is another innovation. There is McCain Foods as well. We have our share of companies that dominate the market because they do things really well. It disturbs me to hear talk about the idea that we should start getting protectionist again.

I will give another example. In Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, there used to be a dreadful, terrible and disgusting shantytown. Because of the free trade agreement, there are now large American companies that have established beautiful and big industries with parklands. They have cleaned up all the streams and creeks that were full of--

Democratic Reform February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the House sent Bill C-3 to committee before second reading because the Minister responsible for Democratic Reform led us to believe he wanted meaningful input on the legislation.

However, during my questioning of the minister at committee yesterday, he admitted that he had never bothered to contact any of the parties affected by the bill. Not only that, the minister also told us that nobody affected by the bill even knew that it had been introduced.

As if that was not bad enough, the minister used his Liberal members on the committee to block the appearance of any witnesses. Not even the Chief Electoral Officer, who must administer the bill, is allowed to attend.

We foolishly believed that the democratic reforms promised by the minister meant that things would be more democratic around this place. However, it is worse, much worse than it was under the previous minister. The new minister's reforms simply mean that now there is no democracy at all.

Petitions February 16th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from Audrey Tyan of Kirkstone Road in North Vancouver, and 143 others, in which they draw the attention of the House to the following: Whereas marriage is the best foundation for families and the raising of children; whereas the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman is being challenged; whereas this hon. House passed a motion in June of 1999 that called for marriage to continue to be recognized as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others; and whereas marriage is in the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament, the petitioners pray that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act October 21st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it may well be that the new prime minister would want these boundaries in place. In fact I suspect he does because last night he voted in favour of the bill. However that just happens to coincide with what the west wants as well.

In the west we want two additional seats in Alberta and two additional seats in British Columbia. It just happens to agree with what the new prime minister wants in this case.